The long wait is over. The NCAA has deliberated about what punishments, if any, to hand down to the University of North Carolina following a lengthy investigation into the school’s African and Afro-American Studies program and whether it provided improper academic benefits to student-athletes. Its Committee of Infractions will announce such punishments on Friday.
But what exactly do those punishments look like? Could the university simply receive a slap on the wrist? Is the dreaded “death penalty” in play? Here’s just a brief look at what to expect before, during and after the COI announces its findings.
So what punishments might UNC get?
It could vary. At the minimum, it could see probation and fines. Other possibilities include a brief postseason ban, vacation of wins, scholarship reductions, and suspensions. More extreme measures could center around having North Carolina’s 2005 and 2009 men’s basketball championship vacated, as well as potential multiple year postseason bans.
Does this just center on basketball and football?
While men’s basketball is the headlining sport at North Carolina, and while it – and football – are mentioned most often, it hardly includes just them alone. The NCAA’s investigation also centered on women’s basketball, soccer, and baseball players that might have benefited from AFAM and other classes found to be improper.
Is the death penalty on the table?
Probably not. The NCAA very rarely issues the death penalty (only five times in 65 years) and is extremely hesitant to do so unless extreme situations call for it. But, again, it’s only happened five times before, so it would be a surprise to see UNC receive it. If in a shocking turn, they did, it would more than likely see just the basketball and football programs banned for a year. SMU football, the last major athletic program to receive it, felt the ramifications of it long after it received the death penalty in 1987.
Is the NCAA committee of infractions’ decision final?
Not necessarily. If UNC finds that the punishments are too harsh, they could appeal to have them reduced or overturned altogether. According to the NCAA, in order to appeal a ruling, a school must prove that:
the ruling by the committee on infractions was clearly contrary to the evidence; the individual or school did not actually break NCAA rules; there was a procedural error that caused the committee on infractions to find a violation of NCAA rules; or the penalty was excessive.
It is not known how long such an appeals process would take, but it could take a number of months. One of the most notable examples is Louisville, which has filed an appeal for the vacation of its 2013 championship and a number of wins from 2011-2013. Once the appeals committee upholds or reverses the COI’s ruling, it is then final.
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